What is a project review?

– You want do to know where you are standing with that large, multi-year, strategic project?
– You think one of your key projects is in trouble?
– Or you know that one of your key projects is in trouble?

Then a project review is what you are looking for.

So what is a project review?

When we talk about a project review there are many names thrown around to indicate the same thing: project review, project health check, project audit, project retrospective, project postmortem. But are they really the same? Not really.

A project audit is about being compliant and about the now. An audit aims to show the extent to which your project conforms to the required organizational and project standards. So, if your organization uses PRINCE2 or their own project management methodology, an audit will look at how closely you follow the processes. An audit can take place during or after the project.

A project retrospective, or postmortem, is about lessons learned so that your next projects will run better or equally well. A project retrospective will be done after the project, so has no use for the project itself.

A project review is all about the future probability of project success. A project review will give you a good understanding of the current status of your project and how it is on track to deliver against your definition of project success on three levels:

1. Project delivery success: will the process of delivering the project be successful? Essentially this addresses the classic triangle “scope time, budget, and quality?”

2. Product or service success: this is about when the product or service to be delivered is deemed successful (e.g. system is used by all users in scope, uptime is 99.99%, customer satisfaction has increased by 25%, operational costs have decreased by 15%, etc.).

3. Business success: this is about how the product or service to be delivered brings value to the overall organization, and how it contributes financially and/or strategically to the business.

A project review can take place at any time during or after the project, although it has very limited value at the start of a project.

Why do a project review?

A project review will give you:

– An outside 360-degree view on the current status of your project
– The information you need for good decision making
– An outside opinion on the success chances of the project (project delivery success, product/service success, and business success)

– Suggestions for corrective actions on the discovered project issues and challenges

When should you do a project review?

The three main reasons for doing a project review are:

1. Periodic review of large, multi-year, strategic projects to verify all work is on track and the business case(s) are still valid.
2. When you think one of your key projects is in trouble.
3. When you know one of your key projects is in trouble.

What will be done during a project review?

Below are the building blocks of a project review. The row order is not graved in stone and can be adapted based on availability and priorities. Results of one building block will be an input of another.

1. Understanding the project success criteria
2. Understanding the project stakeholders
3. Team Review
4. Scope Review
5. Financial Review
6. Timeline Review
7. Steering Committee and Governance Review
8. Technology & Architecture Review
9. Engineering & Quality Review
10. Impact Analysis
11. Risk Assessment
12. Communication Review
13. Contract & Procurement Review

What will be the outcome of a project review?

1. An up to date assumption List
2. An up to date issue list
3. An up to date risk assessment
4. A detailed report with findings and suggested corrective actions
5. Presentation and discussion of findings and suggested actions